Roland Garros girls’ champions – Where Are They Now?
Originally published on 28/05/16 00:00
If a young player wins a junior Grand Slam title, it is often a good indicator of what they will go on to achieve on the professional circuit. Here’s a look at the last 10 winners of the French Open Girls’ Singles and how their careers have progressed since.
2006 – Agnieszka Radwanska
The world No.2 from Poland has had a superb career since her triumph at junior Roland Garros, notching up 18 WTA singles titles (including the WTA Finals in 2015), reaching one Grand Slam final and four Grand Slam semi-finals. She broke into the world’s top 20 in February 2008 (shortly before her 19th birthday) and has been there ever since. Despite a long career, Radwanska is only 27 and could have some of her best years ahead. Her inventive, energetic style of play and outrageous shot-making capabilities make her a delight to watch, and she is arguably the most popular player on tour as she won the WTA Fan Favourite award in each of the last five years, and Shot of the Year in the last three.
2007 – Alize Cornet
A talented but mercurial player, Cornet has never quite lived up to the potential her junior Roland Garros win suggested. She has certainly shown glimpses – notably when she beat Serena Williams in all three of their meetings in 2014, including in the third round at Wimbledon – but with the impressive array of shots in her arsenal, her intelligent reading of the game and her fighting qualities, she should have won more than five WTA titles in her career. Nevertheless, the Frenchwoman is usually entertaining to watch, and she is only 26 so has time to add to her title tally.
2008 – Simona Halep
Since making the step up to the professional tour, Halep has been impressive in winning 12 WTA singles titles and getting to the quarter-finals or further in five Grand Slam tournaments. She almost completed the junior-senior double at Roland Garros in 2014, when she lost a tight, high-quality three-set final against Maria Sharapova. The Romanian has already established herself as one of the best players in the world, but will be looking to start winning Grand Slams to cement that status.
2009 – Kristina Mladenovic
The Frenchwoman is known more for her doubles exploits than her singles successes, as she has racked up 15 WTA doubles titles in her career so far and is currently the world No.11. Her performances in 2015 suggested that might soon change, as she reached her first Grand Slam singles quarter-final at the US Open, got to the quarter-final stage or further on seven occasions in tour events and broke into the world’s top 30. As befitting a doubles specialist, Mladenovic possesses a good serve and excellent net skills, and at 23 has plenty of time to continue her rise up the singles rankings.
2010 – Elina Svitolina
The Ukranian, 22, has made a very promising start to her professional career which has seen her win four WTA singles titles and break into the world’s top 20. She has a good all-court game and boundless energy around the court, which makes her a tough player to beat, and she reached the French Open quarter-final in 2015, where she lost to Ana Ivanovic. Svitolina also reached three Premier-level semi-finals in 2015 and lost to three very good opponents – Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber.
2011 – Ons Jabeur
Having lost in the final to Svitolina in 2010, Jabeur returned to Roland Garros to claim the 2011 Girls Singles titles and serve notice of her potential to the tennis-watching public. However, it remains the finest achievement of her tennis life to date, as she is yet to win a WTA singles title and yet to break into the world’s top 100. She qualified for the US Open in 2014 and her career-high ranking is 118.
2012 – Annika Beck
After winning the junior title at Roland Garros in June 2012, Beck capped a superb year by breaking into the world’s top 100 in October. She has been there ever since, and an excellent run to the Luxembourg Open title in October 2014, during which she beat Timea Bacsinszky, Roberta Vinci and Barbora Strycova, demonstrated her potential. She won another title in Quebec City the following year. The German’s game relies heavily on her clever, accurate shot-making and formidable court coverage, and it was these attributes which led to her most impressive victory so far – a 6-2 3-6 6-1 win over Radwanska at the 2015 French Open.
2013 – Belinda Bencic
This Swiss prodigy was tipped to achieve big things in the world of tennis from an early age, and her performances on the junior circuit in 2013 demonstrated her phenomenal potential. She won an incredible 39 consecutive singles matches between December 2012 and July 2013 and collected six titles in the process, including the French Open and Wimbledon girls’ singles titles, leading to her being crowned 2013 ITF Junior World Champion. Bencic then made rapid progress on the professional tour in 2014, starting the year ranked 186 in the world and ending it No.32. Her breakthrough tournament was the 2014 US Open, when she beat Jelena Jankovic and Kerber on her way to reaching the last eight aged 17. In 2015, she won her first WTA title in Eastbourne and then produced sensational tennis to beat Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki, Ivanovic, Williams and Halep and claim the Rogers Cup in Toronto – one of the biggest titles on tour. Injuries have hampered her so far in 2016, but there is no limit to what she can achieve in her career.
2014 – Daria Kasatkina
Another prodigious young talent, Kasatkina has made a brilliant start to her professional career and looks like a top player in the making. She reached the third round at both of her first two Grand Slams, the US Open and the Australian Open, the semi-finals at the Kremlin Cup and the St Petersburg Trophy, and the quarter-finals in Indian Wells and Charleston. Furthermore, she has already recorded significant wins over Daria Gavrilova, Carla Suarez Navarro, Venus Williams, Dominika Cibulkova, Timea Bacsinszky and Karolina Pliskova.
2015 – Paula Badosa Gilbert
This talented Spaniard, 18, actually won two matches at a WTA Premier Mandatory tournament – the 2015 Miami Open – before she won junior Roland Garros. While it is too early to draw many conclusions about her potential, she won the French Open girls’ singles title without dropping a set all tournament and should have a lot of confidence in her ability as a result.